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Preparing for Foaling Time
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Preparing for Foaling Time

So, most of you have been reading my blogs about my two broodmares, Bitsy Pine Sun and Maker Miss Ellie.  Both are in foal for 2013 and are at the 7-month stage.  I gave them EHV-1 vaccinations last week and that is about all I need to do now for a while.  Another EHV-1 vaccination will be given at the 9th month of their pregnancy and then I give them all their routine spring vaccinations about 1 month prior to foaling.  That way, by the time they foal they will have developed alot of antibodies to pass along to the new baby in the colostrum!  They are both healthy & happy and beginning to show their pregnancies.  

A 7-month old horse fetus is usually about 15 lbs.  The fetus begins to develop rapidly after seven months of gestation although Bitsy never shows very much until the final 6 weeks. The photo of her attached to this blog was taken about 1 week prior to foaling in 2012.  Miss Ellie is such a large mare that she "hides" her foals but generally at about 8 weeks to go she is really beginning to show.

During the next four months the foal's demand for nutrition exceeds the mare's maintenance requirements so I try to make gradual adjustments to their diet. A little more grain each morning and night and plenty of good, clean Iowa hay.  I generally save my best hay until about February when the weather can be very cold and they need more calories to stay warm and grow that baby!  Trace mineral supplementation is critical during late pregnancy because the fetus stores these minerals (namely iron, zinc, copper, and manganese) in its liver for use after it's born because the mare's milk has a low content of those minerals. Sometimes I provide free choice mineral to the mares and sometimes I sprinkle a bit on their feed each night.

Both mares are fed a 12% protein pelleted feed and seem to do quite well on it.   I have only had one mare in my lifetime that needed something different so it has served me well.

I also try and time my farrier visits so that hoof trims are done just a couple of weeks prior to foaling.  By doing that, my farrier doesn't have to worry about coming when the mares are being overly-protective of their foals.  By the time they are due for another trim, the babies are getting more & more independent and the mares worry less about them.  My farrier thanks me for that strategy!

So, we are progressing quite nicely as we head into the coldest part of the Iowa winter.  With the barn full of good quality hay and with the mares healthy & happy, I should be able to rest easy until about April 1.

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